Yogi to be BJP's Star Campaigner in Karnataka, BJP Banks on His Connect With Lingayat Leaders

CNN-News18
As many as 35 public rallies, along with road shows, are being planned for the UP CM when he hits the campaign trail in Karnataka on May 3. Yogi will address 4-5 rallies a day across constituencies.

Lucknow: Despite some major political setbacks and increasing questions over governance in the recent past, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will be the major star campaigner for his party in Karnataka.

As many as 35 public rallies, along with road shows, are being planned for the UP CM when he hits the campaign trail in Karnataka on May 3. Yogi will address 4-5 rallies a day across constituencies.

Mrityunjay Kumar, media advisor to UP Chief Minister, confirmed Yogi's Karnataka campaign schedule.

“While exact details of his rallies, the constituencies he will cover are being worked out, but around 35 rallies, road shows are on the card as he hits the campaign trail from May 3,” said Kumar.

Sources say, the party has decided to bank on Yogi following his religious appeal.

The Nath sect which Yogi represents is also seen as a reform movement within Hinduism. It is part of Shaivism. Nath movement is also anti-Brahminical and against caste oppression.

Sources also say, being a religious leader Yogi has a personal connect with some of the top leaders of Lingayat community. BJP hopes that with this background Yogi will have a far larger appeal than others in the state.

Relying on Yogi's hardline Hindutva image is not new to BJP. He was extensively put to use during the Gujrat elections and before that in Kerala when the BJP and the RSS were engaged in a political show of strength with ruling Left Front.

However, lately the political events in Uttar Pradesh and some major issues relating to governance have left Yogi Adityanath feeling the political heat. The embarrassing defeat in Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok sabha bypolls was followed by the shocker when a BJP MLA was accused of rape. The state government's attempt to save the accused caused uproar. It also raised questions on Yogi's image as an able politician and an administrator.

What further fuelled the speculation was when on April 11 party president Amit Shah visited Lucknow and held discussions with UP CM and other leaders, including DY CM Keshav Maurya, Dinesh Sharma and party's organisational secretary Sunil Bansal.

The political buzz was that party president is not happy with state of affairs and in particular the manner in which Unnao rape case was being dealt with. The impact was visible within hours. As soon as Shah left Lucknow at around midnight, the UP government moved ahead recommending a CBI probe in the case.

Another cause of concern for the party was said to be the rising Dalit discontent.

Following large scale violence during the Bharat Bandh call on April 2 and subsequent complaints by some of the Dalit MPs.

Amidst this political onslaught, rumours gained ground that Yogi will not be projected that prominently in Karnataka. However, all that has changed now with party putting a major responsibility on him as far as Karnataka is concerned.